#PHL PUBLIC ART

GroundSwell is committed to showcasing how the arts positively impact our communities, and Philadelphia’s vast collection of public art is an integral part of the Philadelphia landscape that enhances our surroundings and is part of the fabric of the city! Each week we will spotlight one of the great pieces of public art that lives in our city. Today, we spotlight “Sleeping Woman” by Stephen Berg and Tom Chimes.

 

Take a stroll, jog, or bicycle ride along Kelly Drive and notice this one-of-a-kind, curvy, bold, hard as stone woman. “Sleeping Woman” is the name of the art piece designed by Stephen Berg and Tom Chimes in 1991. The art reads in part “How can you know what it means to be here in the clear silence without need.” This one-line piece of run-on prose, is painted atop a 1,200-foot section of the stone retaining wall on the banks of the Schuylkill. Overlooking the river, this landmark serves as a reminder to breathe and relax. “It’s a great place to be to get things resolved” asserted Stephen Berg during the inception of the art-work in 1991.

Both Berg and Chimes were born and raised in Philadelphia (West Philadelphia), and knew they wanted a voice to emerge from the stone. The art work does just that – with no punctuation in the entire writing, the Woman by the Schuylkill just keeps rolling along with the river, never taking time for a pause.

There was also very little question as to where the art would be located.“This is the most beautiful spot in Philadelphia. The sky, the river, the grass, the cherry trees . . . This place has everything" said Berg during an interview in 1991.

Why call the art work Sleeping Woman? A little before the halfway mark - the wall curves. To most it's just that, a curve in the wall. However, in the eyes of the artists, the curve appeared like "the hip of a sleeping woman."

Although both men have passed, Chimes in 2009, and Berg earlier this summer in June, they have left us with an iconic piece of art. A woman who is nothing less than a work of art!

Hear Stephen Berg in his own words discussing how he and Tom Chimes brought the woman to life.